Showing posts with label copy editor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label copy editor. Show all posts

Friday, October 9, 2020

Nitpicky Editing


 Edits. You never know what you're going to get when you entrust you WIP to someone else's critical eye. The only way you get to pick your editor is if you're self-publishing. The rest of the time, you get the luck of the draw. 

I don't have a horror story per se - just an annoyed the crap out of me story. I had a copy editor, a copy editor I hadn't picked. This copy editor defined nitpicker. He didn't understand my genre. He had a totally literal brain and a need to prove he was smarter than anyone else. So rather than simply marking that I'd overused a word, there just had to be a condescending comment about it.

I gritted my teeth, muttered, "Fuck you" under my breath a lot. But even if I didn't appreciate the nonsense, I had to check my ego and make corrections regardless of the BS comments. I also did check in with my editor, who was amazing. I asked if it was possible to request that a copy editor NOT be assigned to my work any longer. She chuckled and said, "Yes, it is. I wondered how you'd feel about that copy edit. I disagreed with some of the edits. I feel like he was changing your voice." 

A vast wave of relief washed over me. I wasn't just being a jerk when I declined a bunch of suggested edits. I was preserving my story and my voice.

I learned several things from this experience:

  • Never submit your master  copy to your editor - keep a back up that is your clean copy. 
  • If you have concerns, always talk to your editor in a calm, professional manner.
  • If you're self-publishing, remember you hired 'em, you can fire 'em. Don't spend time furthering a mistake just because you spent a long time (or a lot of money spent) making it.
  • Ask other authors for recommendations before you hire any kind of editor. 
  • No one caution or solution will prevent poor experiences, but if you make sure you always keep a clean copy in your files, you have a fall back.

Finally, it doesn't matter how many annoying edits I get, I'll always ask for edits from someone who gets paid for doing the job. I'm not equipped to call myself on my own bad writing habits and I like my readers too much to leave those habits unchallenged. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Manifesto of a former grammarista

Folk who know me best also know I used to be a copy editor at a book publisher. I mean, for like a decade. And then I managed copy editors. And then I wrote style guides. That sort of work history will scar a girl, and even to this day, despite my best efforts at self-improvement, parts of my brain remain a bit proscriptive. If you could make Strunk & White's Elements of Style into a verb, that would be my brain ("Oh, don't mind me, I'm just over here StrunkNWhiting").

So, even though I'd never harp on these abominations to your face (we don't do this! we never do this!), here is what those brain-parts are screaming as I read your manuscript:

1. Dangling or misplaced modifiers help no one, ever. Unfortunately, I see a bunch of these, even in published books. Educate yourself on these things and avoid them. Please, please, please.

2. Yes, character names ending in S are fun (I love me a Rhys, an Alexis, a Lucius, maybe a...Salacious?). However! Be aware that there are two legit ways of making possessives of a singular noun ending in S: one way has you add an apostrophe+S, and with the other you add just the apostrophe. It's important that you know going in that whichever method you choose, half of your readers will be completely and totally convinced you're doing it wrong. So, just stick with boring non-ending-in-S names, yeah? Also, don't harangue people who are choosing the other method. They're okay, too.

3. There can be only one...space after a period. If you are putting two spaces, congratulations for passing typing in high school all those years ago. Also, welcome to variable-width fonts and the twenty-first century. (Aside: This is the topic at SFF Seven this week. We are seriously discussing whether there should be one space or two. I love this blog so much!)

4. I know you really want to use a semicolon, but restrain yourself. Don't do it. Even if you think you know how to use a semicolon, sadly, you're probably doing it wrong.

Oh, now that you've got me rolling, I can think of SO MANY peeves, things that just make me crazy: sentence fragments with no subjects and a whole buncha -ing phrases, homonym misuses, pronouns that refer to the wrong thing or nothing at all, word repeats, run-on sentences... yikes!PANIC!JUDGMENT!

*in through your nose, then out through pursed lips*

You know what, though? Don't mind me and my ridiculous, proscriptive (adj, StrunkNWhiteous?) brain. Tell your story. Tell the hell out of it. If you tell me a good enough story, I won't even pick nits.